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Quick Reference Guide to the Ethernet System

1.5 Operation of Ethernet

Each Ethernet-equipped computer, also known as a station, operates independently of all other stations on the network: there is no central controller. All stations attached to an Ethernet are connected to a shared signaling system, also called the medium. Ethernet signals are transmitted serially, one bit at a time, over the shared signal channel to every attached station. To send data a station first listens to the channel, and when the channel is idle the station transmits its data in the form of an Ethernet frame, or packet.*1

After each frame transmission, all stations on the network must contend equally for the next frame transmission opportunity. This ensures that access to the network channel is fair, and that no single station can lock out the other stations. Access to the shared channel is determined by the medium access control (MAC) mechanism embedded in the Ethernet interface located in each station. The medium access control mechanism is based on a system called Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD).

- The CSMA/CD Protocol
- Collisions
- Best Effort Data Delivery

Quick Reference Guide to the Ethernet System - 04 SEP 95
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